I hate to shift into Marie Antoinette mode, but “Let them debate sweet, savory and macro-nutrient ratios.” I’d rather have fun making all three my plaything.

Chocolate, cherries, piccante heat and earthy pork combine for consistently show-stopping dish six years going strong. As the years passed, we’ve served this with a number of variations: combined with vegan black-bean noodles for an unheard-of twist on spaghetti, or served simply on a bed of steamed broccoli or sauteed kale spiked with roasted fennel. We’ve even chopped and combined leftovers into baked wontons for an appetizer.

Originally a mustard-laced simple syrup coating for fruit in Italy, the mostarda recieves a makeover employ nearly all my tricks for richness and sweetness in one dish while keeping the essentials: sweetness, mustard and fruit. The sauce also makes a superlative spread for turkey sandwiches: a little goes a long way.

For the Tenderloin:
1 pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients in bowl and place evenly on a cookie sheet. Remove tenderloin from package without drying. Distribute rub evenly on cookie sheet. Sprinkle rub over top of tenderloin, and then roll tenderloin over spice rub and massage into meat.

Cover tightly with wrap, foil or place in a plastic container and let rest in fridge for at least 1 hour, and up to 2-3 days. Roast the tenderloin at 375 F for about 20-25 minutes or until meat thermometer (placed in the middle of the meat) reads 135 F. Tent, or lightly cover, with aluminum foil for 5-10 minutes before slicing; the meat will continue to cook while resting to the appropriate temperature (140-145 F).

For the Mostarda:
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1 clove chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, toasted (for lesser intensity, substitute 1 ounce Dijon mustard)
1 cup sour cherries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Zest and juice of one orange
1/4 cup red wine
1 tablespoon honey , or brown rice syrup or agave nectar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 cup water, or flavored beef or chicken stock
1/2 ounce fresh rosemary, chopped
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon olive oil for sautéing

On high heat, sauté onions, garlic and mustard seeds until softened. Add dried fruit, orange zest, orange juice, red wine, honey, vinegar and water/stock, and scrape bottom of pan to dislodge particles.After deglazing pan, add mustard if using instead of the mustard seeds, reduce heat to medium and stir occasionally to prevent burning. At the last 10 minutes of cooking, add fresh rosemary. Set aside to cool once mixture reaches a jamlike consistency. Can served at room temperature or chilled.

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